What do Shakespeare and ESSA have in common?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
ESSA and all of the accompanying alphabet soup of high stakes tests are part of the tech world data-soundbites-of-bigger-data to be diced, minced, fed to, and regurgitated for purposes of… purposes of…
Well, in spite of claims regarding accountability and personalized educational goals, the sole true purpose is money. Profit. Public taxes going into the private pockets of multinational investors and the fund managers that own (rent?) and influence legislators.
Shakespeare, whose birthday we celebrate, wrote fiction and/or fictionalized history as well as blank verse which is unrhymed iambic pentameter – poetry of the highest order in the English language. He wrote incredibly insightful thoughts and ideas. He verbalized wisdom as he displayed all the faults of an all too human writer. What he wrote is disappearing nationwide from the curriculum in public schools which are responsible for meaningfully educating students of all age and ability levels.
Why? Shakespeare writes and makes readers, viewers, and listeners of his plays and poetry think for themselves. Billionaire corporate education reformers and their legislative servants want well trained workers not well educated human beings capable of actual critical thinking and reading skills.
Where is proof of this?
In about 1595 Shakespeare wrote the following lines depicting Sir Thomas More, as sheriff of 1517 London, calming a dangerous crowd which was taking the law into its own hands; the crowd of angry men wanted to rid London of aliens whom they held responsible for job losses, crime, and the draining of London’s economic resources. The crowd wanted to have all the aliens forcefully expelled from England.
More stops them with a logical argument:
“Grant them removed and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England.
Their babies on their backs, with their poor luggage
Plodding to th’ ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silenced by your brawl
and you in ruff of your opinions clothed:
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled – and this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians as their fancies wrought
With selfsame hand, self reasons, and self right
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.*
Yes, it is not easy reading by today’s standards. So what! It took some time and repetition to sink in even for the educated people of Shakespeare’s own era 420 years ago.
How do the bubble heads such as Bill Gates and John King bubble this for data to enrich their own profit making machinations and investments? They could ask what year Sir Thomas More lived in and what year Shakespeare wrote it. They might even ask how many years there were between the play and the Declaration of Independence! Imagine what trivial questions and responses would be devised by bubble head profiteers and their legislative minions.
How about presenting the play and this selection and then asking students of all ages about its meaning as they perceive it?
Sample question ideas: Does this seem similar to what is happening today in America? In England? In what other countries? (Give examples.) What other times and places have experienced the same arguments against aliens who were scapegoated for a nation’s problems? Has anyone studied why Jews were the chosen scapegoats in Nazi Germany? Has anyone viewed the episode from the popular Inspector Foyle PBS series, Foyle’s War, that deals with this specific issue? (The episode “Trespass” written in late 2014 shows a 1947 political instigator who causes unnecessary pain and death by mobs who support him by resorting to hateful violence. The man promises to “Make Britain Great Again.”)
Active teachers can make their own lists of questions that are age and ability appropriate. I’m a retired teacher.
Well educated, certified teachers can do a much better job teaching children than Gates, King, Broad, any of the Waltons, and all of contribution receiving politicians publicly funding this assault against actual public education for all.
All of Shakespeare’s written words are 100% authentic in this short selection. In about 1595 Shakespeare and a group playwrights wrote a shared play, Sir Thomas More. There is only one section in any play by Shakespeare that is written by his own hand, and this selection is it. See pages 262-264 in Stephen Greenblatt’s superb 2004 book, Will in the World. The entire book will inform and amuse any lover of Shakespeare’s works.